Bill Richardson, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran spent seventeen years of his life caring for cats in his neighbourhood. The 87-year-old animal lover provided stray cats with food, shelter and love. After all, they were the only family he has.
Unfortunately, not everyone who lived in Berlin Township, New Jersey was on board with Bill's empathy towards the cats.
After almost two decades of looking after stray cats, he was forced out of his home because he refused to stop feeding the felines. His lack of compliance with the obscure demand resulted in him being prosecuted for "having an unlicensed cat."
Lucy Noland of Fox 29 came to Bill's rescue when she shared his story in a Facebook post. She acknowledged everything Bill has done for the well-being of the cats and the lengths he'd go to care for them. "If it was a choice between food for his kitties or himself, the cats won out every time," she wrote.
“He didn't even have a pair of pants to wear to court (you know, to answer to the charges of having that unlicensed cat and, for good measure, the Township of Berlin, New Jersey threw in the charge of "maintaining a nuisance"-- its way of prosecuting him for his outrageous deed of kitty feeding)," she added.
Lucky for Bill, people came to his support once they learned about his story and the injustice he was facing. Theresa Grabowski volunteered her services as an attorney. Funds were set up by rescue groups, animal hospitals and radio stations to help the senior and his cats.
An Amazon Wish List was started by Rescue Dogs Rock Animal Rescue so Bill could purchase items for his new place that he couldn't afford otherwise.
The township still refused to allow Bill's cats stay so volunteers helped move the kitties to a new Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program by Bill's new apartment in Barrington, New Jersey.
***Update*** Bill's kitties still need help if you can offer any. It would make his day to know they'll be warm, well-fed and healthy over these winter months. Here's an Amazon wish list for his kitties: http://a.co/1nfYDqK Any help at all is greatly appreciated! ❤️️❤️️❤️️ *** The cavalry's never far away in this age of social media. Case in point: an 87-year old Marine veteran evicted and prosecuted for the crime of... wait for it... ...feeding cats. It's something he has done for 17 years at the very same apartment. The community cats came to know him, trust him and rely on him. Bill Richardson says he did all he could for them, "That includes feeding and if they needed to see a veterinarian, something like that and I could arrange it, I’d take them out and have that done." He did all of that at the expense of himself. If it was a choice between food for his kitties or himself, the cats won out every time. As Theresa Grabowski, the New Jersey attorney who volunteered her services to help him says, "Bill, put kindness over his personal comfort." So by the time I found out about Bill's plight (he told me, "Please don't call me Mr. Richardson, that's my dad."), he was getting evicted, pleading "guilty" to the charge of "having an unlicensed cat" (wish I was joking here) and reading his beloved murder mysteries with a flashlight in his lightless bedroom. He didn't even have a pair of pants to wear to court (you know, to answer to the charges of having that unlicensed cat and, for good measure, the Township of Berlin, New Jersey threw in the charge of "maintaining a nuisance"-- its way of prosecuting him for his outrageous deed of kitty feeding). I wrote up a post. You overwhelmed with an avalanche of support. Lori Sickel from J & Co Dog Rescue set up a YouCaring fund to help Bill with his kitties (his two personal kitties needed veterinary care and his community cats needed to get trapped, spayed or neutered and vaccinated). It also helped fund his forced move. Meanwhile, Ginny Chappel from Rescue Dogs Rock Animal Rescue set up an Amazon.com Wish List for all the things Bill never bought for himself because he was tending to his kitties-- things like pants, socks, towels and dishes, but you came through with so much more. Within days, you had bought him a new vacuum, microwave, toaster oven, big screen TV, books, book cases, kitty trees and toys, food for Bill and his kitties and so much more. AMAZING! The Preston & Steve Show on 93.3 WMMR's Steve Morrison put out the all call for people who needed barn cats. The Mac Fund's Clare Morrison helped big time with the enormous project. You see, sadly, Berlin Township refused to allow Bill's cats to remain-- even as a maintained TNR'd colony. So when we moved him, we had to move his kitties who were in danger. Some are joining him right next to his new home, in his new town of Barrington, New Jersey. Mount Laurel Animal Hospital's Dr. Chris Torre and South Jersey Animal Hospital's Dr. Anil Gutta both stepped up big time and either provided medical care for free or gave us deep discounts (and we had a lot of cats to care for). NJ Aid for Animals was right there with us as well, helping with the cost of the spays and neuters. The amazing volunteers with Barrington TNR and a small army of my friends (you know who you are), spent long nights trapping Bill's cats, transporting them to the hospitals and caring for them. Barrington TNR also built the little insulated homes for the new cat colony that now sits right next to Bill's new apartment. And right now, Randalls Rescue has one of Bill's formerly outdoor kitties, named Callie, who is sweet as can be and looking for her forever home. Any one need a little more love in their life? I could not ask for a better ending. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. God bless you. Here's the story we ran tonight on FOX 29. Kudos to editor-extraordinare James J Ring for making this story sing and to FOX 29 photojournalist Shane McEachern for his amazing eye <3Posted by Lucy Noland FOX 29 on Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Noland updated her post expressing gratitude for the overwhelming support that Bill and his cat family received, "I could not ask for a better ending. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. God bless you." she wrote.
Faith in humanity restored! If you'd like to help Bill's kitties, you can browse and purchase items from the Amazon Wish List here.